Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Often I am asked  "Ralph what is it that you do?" Now truthfully at times this is a bit disconcerting, I mean are they really interested or is it an "ice breaker".... or do I look like, I just do not know what to do? Usually I respond with something like..."Well... I help homeowners with outdoor environments or living spaces" in other words I am a residential landscape designer. Some examples of the next series of questions usually goes like this:
                  a. Do you work outdoors
                  b. Do you work with people
                  c. Do you know plants
                  d. Can you do irrigation or fix my sprinklers
                  e. Are you a plant freak or tree hugger
                  f. Do you like birds  (I just added that seemed to fit)
Well the answer is yes to all, I like birds outside and at a distance. If one were to want a definition of landscape design it would go something like this   "Landscape design is an independent profession and a design and art tradition, practiced by Landscape designers, combining nature and culture. Well there you go!

What I try to do with clients and potential clients is listen, ask questions and then listen some more...... The design process is multi-stepped and involves the integration of the knowledge and experience I have acquired over the years through professional education, training and  professional certifications and what I have seen and experienced on other landscape projects and what the clients needs and wants are.

The process is this:
                             a. An initial meeting...this can last anywhere from 60 minutes to two is very important at this first meeting to determine if there is a "fit" between the "client" and "me", there must be a even and honest flow of communication and ideas...if not, it will never work and neither of us will be happy...If I cannot establish a bond of trust and rapport, then the client will never be able to tell me what they really need and want for their landscape and once again if there is no trust then my suggestions will be of no value....This step in my opinion is the most valuable and important part of the entire process.
                            b. Site analysis....a site survey of the property...basically an inventory of what is there and how the property is being used. Areas of work, play, service, and areas of opportunity. Is the drainage flow correct? What is the irrigation system like or is there one? Pets, special needs, exposure, and micro climates all are considerations of design.....Do they have a neighbor that needs to be blocked from sight, are there small children that will be playing in the yard, once again all part of the design.
                           c. Conceptual design...this preliminary design takes all the elements from the initial meeting and the site analysis and starts the pathway to the final design. During this phase I send the client various examples of  garden designs everything from Southwest Landscapes, English Gardens to French Country Gardens and ask them to give me feedback....what do you like and what do you not like....all important features to the design. This step is one of changes and variations, once again making decisions that will culminate in the final Design or the Master plan.
                         d. Final Design or Master Plan.......Everything ends up here, the micro climate needs, the plant and hardscape selections, outdoor arbors, kitchens, everything that has been discussed, changed, and analyzed bring us to this point. The master plan will have plant lists, hardscape details, planting details and exact placements and all to scale. Many times the  final plan is a work of art that people frame and keep in a prominent place, I said many times not always...because the real work of art is the outdoor living space that has just been created in their yard............

Ralph Edge
CGreen Landscape Irrigation
Your Landscape, Our Passion

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